Kansas (1-5) at (10) Oklahoma (4-1)
Saturday, October 20, 7:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Frank Haynes, Senior College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: Coming off a pair of double-digit wins against what were thought to be very good football teams, the 10th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners seemingly catch a break with this week's visit from the Kansas Jayhawks.
Kansas has just one win in six opportunities to this point, with that victory coming against FCS foe South Dakota State (31-17) in the season opener. Since that time, the Jayhawks have lost five straight, the most recent of which being a 20-14 setback at home to Oklahoma State last weekend. Following this bout, KU will close out the season against Texas, Baylor, Texas Tech, Iowa State and West Virginia, which means securing that first win against a fellow FBS team isn't going to be easy.
Since suffering a 24-19 loss to visiting Kansas State on Sept. 22, Oklahoma beat up on both Texas Tech (41-20) and Texas (63-21), the win over the Longhorns in Dallas last Saturday being the second straight rout by the Sooners in the annual Red River Rivalry matchup following last year's 55-17 triumph. After this week's game, OU will play host to undefeated Notre Dame before returning to Big 12 action the rest of way against the likes of Iowa State, Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma State and TCU.
Oklahoma owns a commanding 69-27-6 lead in the all-time series with Kansas, and the Sooner have won the last seven meetings.
The Kansas offense is the least productive of the 10 teams currently calling the Big 12 Conference home, averaging a mere 19.0 ppg behind typical outputs of 179.3 ypg rushing and 198.3 ypg passing. The team boasts three players who have run for more than 300 yards on the season, with James Sims and his 344 yards leading the way. The trio, which also includes Taylor Cox and Tony Pierson, have combined for eight of the club's nine rushing TDs. Notre Dame transfer Dayne Crist has been relatively ineffective under center this year, completing a paltry 49.4 percent of his passes for 1,088 yards with three TDs and seven interceptions. A total of four guys have double-digit receptions on the year, with Daymond Patterson pacing the unit with 19 grabs, while Kale Pick has a team-high 248 receiving yards.
As for the Jayhawks defense, it yields 28.0 points and 433.7 total yards per contest, with their effort against the run being especially worrisome as foes grind out 200.8 ypg which ranks the team ninth in the conference. The pass defense permits a middling 232.8 ypg, although that number would be significantly better if there was more pressure at the point of attack, the team logging a mere six sacks through the first half dozen games. Ben Heeney and Bradley McDougald have 50 tackles apiece, and they have combined for seven of the team's 28 TFL.
Despite a 138-yard, one-TD effort by Sims, Kansas failed to muster much in the way of offensive production last week against Oklahoma State, that was until the fourth quarter when it finally put some points on the board. The team generated 398 total yards before it was all said and done, although Crist went a dismal 10-of-22 for 136 yards. Backup Michael Cummings hit 5-of-10 pass attempts for 75 yards, tossing a 21-yard scoring strike to Jimmy Mundine. Pick finished with four catches for 74 yards.
Defensively, the Jayhawks held their own against the Big 12's top scoring team, allowing the Cowboys just 116 rushing yards and a total of 371 for the day. McDougald and Jake Love each logged a dozen tackles, with the latter making three of his stops behind the line of scrimmage.
First-year head coach Charlie Weis praised the effort put forth by his defense.
"I thought that [the defense] was very solid today. They stopped the run pretty well. We gave up a couple of chunks but they really kept us alive into the fourth quarter and gave us a chance to win. I'm really proud of their performance today."
Oklahoma possesses the third-best rushing offense in the Big 12, churning out 221 ypg and scoring 18 TDs on the ground. The passing game accounts for 285.4 ypg, and veteran QB Landry Jones has completed 62 percent of his attempts with nine TDs against three interceptions. Kenny Stills is the top receiver with 32 grabs for 381 yards and three scores, while the OU run game is paced by Damien Williams and his 508 yards and six TDs. All that production leads to a scoring average of 43.2 ppg, which in the wide-open Big 12 has the Sooners ranked fourth coming into action this week.
For the most part, the Oklahoma defense has performed well this year, with the opposition averaging just 17 points and 300.2 total yards per game. The effort against the pass has been top-notch, with those same foes airing it out for only 171.4 ypg and a mere three TDs. The Sooners are giving up 128.8 ypg on the ground, with only four rushing scores, and they have allowed the fewest first downs (74) of any team in the league. Tony Jefferson currently sits atop the team's tackles list with 37, while both Javon Harris and Aaron Colvin have a pair on interceptions.
Oklahoma scored early and often in last week's showdown with Texas, the Sooners finishing with whopping 677 yards of total offense, compared to just 289 for the Longhorns. Williams rumbled his way for 167 yards and a TD, while Blake Bell made the most of his limited carries (11) by scoring four TDs. As for Jones, he connected on 21-of-37 passes for 321 yards with two TDs and one pick, hitting Trey Millard five times for 119 yards and a score. Justin Brown had five grabs as well, taking them for 73 yards and a TD.
The Sooners defense did a solid nice job keeping the Longhorns at bay, holding them to 74 net rushing yards while coming up with three turnovers in less than 23 minutes of game time on the field. Jefferson led the way with seven stops, and he had one of the interceptions.
Not surprisingly, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops was proud of the way his team played against a formidable opponent.
"I'll just start by complimenting our players just for their really excellent play today and their assistant coaches for really having a good plan and having them prepared to play. I was really quite pleased to play so well in every facet of the game."
Playing well in every facet of the game probably won't be necessary for Oklahoma to win this game, but for the sake of consistency and building for the future, expect the Sooners to be firing on all cylinders once again.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oklahoma 56, Kansas 10
10/17 10:43:56 ET